Thursday, May 28, 2009

Discussion Question 3

In this bulletin, I studied the internet marketing strategy of NMHU and compared it with the strategy of UNLV. In comparing these two schools, I found some things that each school really had going for them, as well as some places to improve. Both of these schools are four year schools as well as offer graduate programs and would be competitors in my opinion.
NMHU’s website is very visually appealing to me, especially with the purple backgrounds that make it really stand out with the fonts and pictures. They appear to cater mostly to Northern New Mexico pursuing an affordable education for 4 year or graduate degrees in all sorts of fields. However, they have a major stake in distance education and have centers all across the state as well as a sophisticated online learning environment. There is a specific emphasis on marketing to the Hispanic population of New Mexico. I feel they cater to Hispanics because of our lectures that addressed this, as well as the pictures on their site and programs offered. I recall seeing many focuses on their international programs such as international business concentrations, studies abroad in Mexico and Spain, and also the photos of salsa dancers and students on the site. They use Facebook to reach out to their students which is a nice touch, but they could revamp their efforts to fuel the effect of “viral marketing” to get it to spread like wildfire throughout the student population. I know as an end user of Facebook, I am personally a fan of New Mexico Highlands but have not seen many of my peers who are. There is also no opportunity to place you in a group for a specific center, such as San Juan Center to improve the network and find friends with ease. In their marketing, they do a pretty poor job, however, of reflecting the life on campus and do little to keep its students informed at the start of the site. For example, many universities, such as UNLV, have a student spotlight or the like to show what students are really saying, as well as what is going on in campus news. NMHU could engage their students even more if they had something available like this and would also lure in prospective candidates. For how much NMHU supports its distance learning, it does not represent them well on the site either. It would be nice to find information about instructors, contact information, and other center-specific information. Instead, I find a map and a highlight of the center director and a couple of core instructors. I have faced difficulties in finding anything of much use on the Highlands website, including the Bookstore, degree forms, distance learning specifications (such as what courses are offered in what semesters and availability of online courses), and other important things that I have never had a hard time finding on other learning sites. Overall, I do like the NMHU site a lot but a few small additions and changes could really improve its usability, especially simple things like a quick links bar and a little more information behind the links.
For comparison to NMHU, I looked over the website of UNLV. Although they are a larger school, I still found them to be a competitor. UNLV has a less engaging homepage in the sense of color and layout, but all the important things I am looking for is there and easy to use. For example, there is a quick links bar, degree audit sheets, graduation checklists, course specifications with semesters they are offered, and a convertor for all sorts of courses from many schools to its transfer equivalent for UNLV. This tool alone would have saved me hours of agony in Dr. Rassam’s office if it were available on the Highlands site and would allow potential students to determine what they may have coming into the university. UNLV also introduces a section called “Life after UNLV” that highlights what options are available after school, such as internships, future education possibilities, and other career opportunities. They do not appear to target a particular group of student, however, but seem to reach out more in recruiting those from all over. Perhaps this is because they rely on recruiting from California and so many other neighboring areas since it is not as desolate as New Mexico. They also have more groups for UNLV, including athletics and other subgroups. Perhaps my favorite part of the site, however, is the highlighted area on the instructors for the school. It would have been nice to know a little bit about my instructors prior to the first day of class, as well as give me a background on them that can rarely be shared during crucial class time. They also highlight many activities at the school, as well as have a student life area that shows exactly how things are on campus, giving you an idea of what to expect when you are there. There have been several occasions when I have found myself curious how life is at NMHU-LV but have yet to find an effective means to do so. Overall, I think I gave UNLV an upper hand in my comparison because it had what I have been frustrated to not have on my NMHU homepage, as well as the improvements it could have had on my earlier educational planning. However, the site for UNLV was lacking a lot of appearance related benefits which are increasingly important in the digital age of today.

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